8) Hi everyone! I'm new here... we are planning a 10th anniversary trip for the end of May 2006 and considering a cruise to Alaska, with our two boys - ages 6 and 8. We would love a newer ship, filled with good food and non-smokers. We can depart from any port, and we would like an itinerary that includes Glacier Bay. Because of the kids, we are planning a cruise only trip, with lots of shore excursions.
An excellent kids program is important, preferably with educational activities (and kids on board off season, as most schools will still be in session) and the ability for the kids to stay together in one group. A covered pool/ retractable roof would be great. Also, larger staterooms (reasonably priced balcony/jr. suite?) nicely decorated, as it is our anniversary...
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!! There are so many options, we would love to narrow them down!!!
Laurie in San Diego
Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean November 2003
Disney Magic Western Caribbean November 2004
Looks like a Princess Cruise to me.... we sailed on the Diamond last spring break with our kids and loved it... The "Grand Class" of Princess ships all have an indoor pool with sliding roof for comfortable swimming in cold weather. These ships are running one way itineraries northbound or southbound out of Vancouver I think for next year, the end up in Whittier and sail Glacier Bay.... Princess has a great reputation for Alaska, and bring onboard native people to talk about the areas and things unique to the region. They also have a great childrens program as well. We are sailing to Alaska next year in September with Royal Caribbean as we are not bringing the kids this time and we wanted a round trip sailing with a covered pool, and Princess didn't fit our needs. You'll have many family memories with a trip like this.... enjoy!
I would suggest that since you’re wanting to do a cruise only that you do a round trip from/to either Seattle or Vancouver.
We’ve sailed from both ports and enjoyed both very much so.
Vancouver: More scenic really. Sails inside Vancouver island and much more in between all the many islands in the inside passage. We also arrived in Juneau much earlier which was nice we felt, especially with kids. Vancouver is a lovely city as well. Biggest negative for Vancouver is getting out of town on your return. We found many really long lines trying to get through security and customs. Both times 4 ships had arrived the same morning and we all pretty much showed up at the airport at the same time.
Seattle: Less scenic. But that said, the coast was still pretty spectacular. Sails outside of Vancouver island and many of the small islands. Got to Juneau at 2pm so our tour options were harder to coordinate. We stayed until it was pretty late but we’re not into nightlife much so it wasn’t to our benefit. It was relatively easy going through customs and getting to our flight on our return.
I’d give a slight edge to Vancouver but would sail Seattle if that was the best itinerary/price, etc we wanted.
IMHO for a first Alaskan cruise Glacier Bay is a must. Can’t be described and photos don’t do it justice. If you choose Glacier Bay this will greatly narrow down your choices for cruise lines and other options. For example, Celebrity doesn’t visit Glacier bay at all. Other lines do visit but not on all cruises and ships. I know that NCL, HAL, and Princess have ships that visit the bay. If you can’t find a trip to Glacier bay my second choice would be Hubbard Glacier. Huge and beautiful indeed.
We sailed on HAL, Celebrity, and NCL and all 3 had terrific kids programs. Our son loved them. There were plenty of kids aboard as well but in May I’m not sure how many kids will be there. There will be many activities however and geared towards you kid’s ages. They’ll have a great time.
IMHO a balcony is a must for Alaska. You want to miss as little as possible of the scenery. Many will disagree, preferring to save on the cabin and have more for tours. I prefer to spend more on the cabin for a week and am willing if necessary to skip an expensive tour that lasts a couple of hours.
There will be smokers on the ship by the way. You can’t get around that.
We found the covered pool to be nice when we had it however when we sailed (August) the cover really wasn’t necessary most of the time. Most of our trips had sunny weather and the rain that we did get wasn’t long lasting. Probably in May you’d need it.
I will also be cruising Alaska next summer with my two kids (7/10 at cruising time). We choose the Diamond Princess. My husband has a thing for the biggest/newest ship, this was one reason we choose this ship. It also visits Glacier Bay, which was a priority. It has good times in port for the other ports. The only downside to this is that it involves alot of traveling. We live in Miami. The airfare was a little pricey (as you can imagine) with an open jaw flight. However, I have been trying to find fun things to do pre/post cruise Seattle and on the day we disembark in Whittier. i think it will work out pretty well. We will be cruising June 10 northbound. We got a really good group rate on the cruise If you are interested in more info, let me know .
I would suggest HAL, they offer excellent kids programs many Alaska based. But the best option is Glacier Bay on the round trip Vancouver sailings. Princess only does Glacier Bay on the one ways, which, my opinion only, I would never do without at least an additional week for interior travel. It is long and costly to get or leave out of Anchorage and I am a firm beliver in taking advantage of the excellent touring available there.
But frankly, kids will have a great time on any ship. You may want to look at several factors, route, ports, time in ports, glacier, price. I am one who gives the major edge to shore tours vs a cabin. In my opinion you get only half a trip without them.
I do not say, do a one way cruise. Round trips offer excellent adventures packed into 7 days and great trips.
I disagree on the "best" being a one way, in my experience it is not. Especially the one ways that do not include College Fjords- they have less scenery than round trip Vancouver sailings. My opinion only and no flames please. I do one ways then add at least a week for interior travel. This year spent 19 days on the trip.